Classic still-life offerings like oranges and cherries mingle with modern personal effects such as Carmex lip balm and cancer medications in the works on paper in Dawn Clements’s “Tables and pills and things.” Using Sumi ink, ballpoint pens, watercolors, and gouache, Brooklyn-based Clements depicts domestic interiors and tabletop tableaux in soft—but highly detailed—compositions. Clements seems to be continually inspired by her immediate surroundings. My Desk (Ballpoint), 2009, a narrow, frenzied pen drawing of her cluttered workspace, is a delight to pore over. Some of the works, like Three Tables in Rome (2017) and Table (Civitella Ranieri), 2013, were produced during residencies at the American Academy in Rome. Instead of majestic ruins, Clements has focused on interiors that could exist anywhere. They bear signs of the artist’s physical presence, particularly evidenced by handwritten notes scrawled on the edges of many works.
Several of the largest pieces here are irregularly shaped, composed of pieces of paper that have been taped and glued together. This strategy recalls the romantic naturalist Charles Burchfield, who continually revised his watercolors, pasting new strips of paper on decades-old works. The effect this has on Clements’s intensely intimate, feminine drawings is one of unfolding, an expansive experience of looking.
Pictured: Detail of Dawn Clements's Table (MacDowell), 2015, watercolor on paper, 81 by 99 inches. Courtesy Pierogi, New York.